The Army takes personal interest in making sure Soldiers transitioning out of the Army are afforded the opportunity to enhance their skills with a civilian slant to improve their chances at landing their ‘dream job.’
The Department of Defense SkillBridge program assists service members in obtaining degrees or certificates that are applicable in the civilian workforce. The Army’s version of SkillBridge is called the Army Career Skills Program. It allows retiring and separating Soldiers the opportunity to conduct a variety of pre-employment programs to assist with gaining employment upon transition.
“As an Army Leader, I have a responsibility to counsel Soldiers exiting the military,” said Col. Scott Shaw, Commander for the Asymmetric Warfare Group. “Part of that is to ensure those Soldiers are aware of the programs [available to them]. People are our Army’s number one priority, and ensuring Soldiers transition out of the military with a positive story to tell others, so they too can be inspired to serve. It’s what being a Soldier for Life is about.”
The Army’s Career Skills Program focuses on facilitating apprenticeships, on the job training, internships, and job shadowing by Soldiers in order to obtain industry recognized credentials and learn job responsibilities, new skills, and industry-specific practices. If approved, the Soldier may conduct an internship or apprenticeship with an approved company or apprenticeship program co-located with the Soldier’s duty station during the last six months of their active duty prior to leaving.
Capt. Jacob Ahle, an information operations intelligence officer, decided to retire after 20 years of service. While his undergraduate degree was in psychology, he always enjoyed teaching and coaching. This passion led him to pursue a career in teaching. Through the Career Skills Program, he secured an internship at a middle school in the area where he intended to retire. He spent six weeks teaching health, physical education, and social studies to sixth through eighth graders, and also shadowed a special needs teacher to learn the necessary skills to be an effective teacher. As he participated in the internship, he also began his certification process to become a teacher. Following the internship and his terminal leave, he was hired by the school he interned with, and intends to finish his certification and teach full time.
The unit a Soldier is assigned to does not receive reimbursement for their support to the Soldier, and is also prohibited from reimbursing the Soldier for their efforts during the program. Participating Soldiers still receive their ordinary military pay, however, their assigned place of duty is with the hosting organization or company, but they must maintain accountability with their assigned unit for the duration of the program.
Given the Army’s Career Skills Program’s flexibility and Soldiers’ unique interests and ambitions, the program has helped countless transitioning Soldiers successfully prepare for life after the Army in the civilian workforce. The Program’s flexibility and wide range of options allow Soldiers of all interests, ambitions, and backgrounds to develop the skills, credentials, and knowledge to successfully find employment and continue serving their country as private citizens.
More information on the Army Career Skills Program can be found at: https://home.army.mil/imcom/index.php/customers/career-skills-program